Sunday, February 28, 2010
What the hell do you do when you believe both? That less government would be a good thing? That more and better health care would be a good thing?
Oh, and that you can't jump halfway across a river?
Saturday, February 27, 2010
In today's trip, we were just taking advantage of the store's proximity to the Bed Bath and Beyond in the same shopping plaza. We'd bought a ten inch saute pan there about a week ago. It's "Emerilware", which is to say "All-Clad". That's a pretty good name. We chose it because of the four or fine acceptable pans, that was the only one with a comfortable handle. Calpalon's handles were particularly bad, and All-Clad wasn't too great, either. Good pan, bad handle. It's as if they assume that a) the pan will be used by the help, not you, so who cares, or b) you'll always be wearing some kind of mitts. Or, perhaps, simply that your hands are so calloused from years in the kitchen that the different is meaningless to you. Regardless, for us, the difference did matter, and so we got it. We've been happy with it, but we did think It'd be nice if this pan had a lid. So we went back, finding that none of the acceptable fry pans (we call them both 'frying pans', but apparently a frying pan has vertical sides, whereas a 'saute pan' has sloped sides to encourage the evaporation of juices when reducing a mixture. Who knew?) came as single units -- they were all sets. We just weren't willing to do that. I noticed, though, that Calpalon, alone, sold lids by themselves, so I said why don't we just buy a ten inch lid? Which we did. It pretty much fits, and I'm sure it'd fit an, ahem, actual frying pan. You know, with the vertical sides.
The other differencebetween All-Clad and Emerillware, which they don't mention on the outside of the box, is that All-Clad is made in Pennsylvania, whereas Emerillware is made under licence to All-Clad, but in China.
Anyway, when we were done, we went down to Wegmans, bought some fruit and one or two other things (I bought some Joya brand halvah; I used to get it as a kid, and I still like it, though in lesser quantities than I'd eat then), and then looked for sausage. We were hoping to find the kind of local sausage we'd bought in Harrisburg a few months ago, though much, much smaller (each of those patties was about three or four inches across and a three-quarters of an inch deep). We couldn't. We did get some generic spiced sausage, when my wife said These guys are so big, they must have chorizo. So we asked, and they did. Tomorrow, chorizo with peppers and onions!
Over the last five years, every time the bill came, I thought This is getting more expensive every year. I wish we had a reasonably priced alternative. I mentioned this to my wife, who pointed out that when my daughter starts to drive, we're going to want her to have coverage, too. We're not sure if AAA even offers a family plan, but given that they insist on billing me and my wife for separate memberships, at forty-seven bucks a pop each, we thought, probably not.
Then it occured to me that our insurance agency, USAA, offers discounts on some services and goods. Wonder if they offer a discount on AAA? So I wrote, and asked. And this is what they said.
"Our records indicate that you currently carry Towing & Labor/Roadside Assistance coverage for your (two vehicles). Towing and Labor will pay the reasonable costs incurred for any of the following each time the covered auto is disabled:
* Mechanical labor up to one hour at the place of breakdown
* Towing to the nearest place where necessary repairs can be made during regular business hours, if the vehicle will not run or is stranded on or immediately next to a public road.
* Delivery of gas, oil, a battery, or a change of tire. However, we do not pay for the cost of these items.
* Expenses associated with lost/lockout key services, subject to policy limits. There is no coverage for ignition and lock recoding in instances involving lost or stolen car keys.
* Non owned vehicles operated by you when at least one vehicle on the policy carries Towing & Labor coverage, and the vehicle is a covered vehicle type for Towing & Labor.
* A trailer when being towed by a covered vehicle. This coverage applies in locations where coverage is afforded on miscellaneous vehicles.
If you require additional assistance, you may contact our Roadside Assistance department directly by calling 1-800-531-8555 24/7
We value your business and the opportunity to serve all your financial needs."
I know, what USAA thinks are 'reasonable costs' and what the local garages think might vary. Still, it's almost a hundred bucks, every year, for something that I'm unlikely to need, and only use rarely. Not too difficult to figure out.
My renewal for AAA was sitting, waiting to be mailed. I don't think I will.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Turns out closing the lid with papers on the keyboard isn't that good an idea. The hinge takes it personally.
It's fixed. Kinda. I think the duct tape adds something.
Last month, we got a bill reflecting a full month with the primary line, and a couple of days on the secondary line, all with Verizon. This month, we got a bill reflecting a full month with the primary line, and most of a month with the secondary. When we switched, we guessimated that our total bill per month for everything - phone, TV, and Internet - would be about $175 per month. We're currently halfway through a 'one service free' six month period, so our bill last month was about $124. This month's, though, was $205.
So I looked. I had to draw a little diagram, showing each charge, and the components thereof, for the two months -- Verizon does tell you, in usually but not always clear language, what the charges are -- before I understood, but it broke down that the difference came from two things: first, a 'miscellaneous one time charge this month of $38, and second, a 'flat rate' for the second line of $50 -- when the rate for exactly the same service on the first line is $28. This, as they say, dismayed me. So I called. Repeatedly. Due to adverse weather conditions, we are experiencing higher than normal call volumes. Uh-huh. But finally, I did get someone.
The first charge, the miscellaneous one, was what they charged me to switch that second line to long distance with them. I am sure it cost them that much to flip those switches. Oh, yes, I am. Very heavy switches, you see. The second charge was because only one phone line was covered in the FIOS package. The $28 a month gives unlimited local and long distance on that phone (plus caller ID and voice mail), but the exact same services on the other, not part of The Package, is $50. But, the person on the line said, cheerfully, we have a new deal that will drop that cost from $50 a month to $9. Really? Same service? Oh, yes. Its because the second phone line isn't regulated like the primary, so there aren't as many charges, and we can pass that on to you.
Wow, such a deal. Okay, sign us up. Now, she added without taking a breath, there are two things you should know. One is, this new package will switch you to Voice Over IP, which means that (and I forget what it was, but it was a nit). Okay, and the second? Any phone calls you make will now have to have the area code. Across the street, across the country, need the area code. Um...okay. We only make long distance calls on that line, anyway. And my wife said That's just the second line, right? Nope, both lines. Both lines? Argh.... I just couldn't get past that. It's not like I make a lot of calls, but still. Area code just to call the movie theater? Nah. And I was about to say Well, the hell with it, when my wife said Do you have any packages that would cost less and not use VOIP? Wellllll.... we do have a package that would cost you a total of about $27 a month for that phone, and not use VOIP. You'd get thirty minutes of long distance service a month. Do calls to 800 numbers count as long distance? No, they're local. So the first phone stays the same, and the second one would go from $50 a month to $27, we lose unlimited long distance, caller ID, and voice mail on it, we get thirty minutes of long distance, no VOIP requirement to use area codes for local calls, and 800 numbers are free because we have unlimted local calls?
(Somewhat grudgingly) Yes. (Dammit, they actually remembered?)
I am so glad I had her standing there, listening to this. And so not surprised that TPC didn't pop up with the best deal, given our constraints on acceptable solutions, right away. Ernestine would have been proud.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Every so often, a Republican would say something and I would think wait a minute, that actually makes sense. I wouldn't want to give them that, because I really do think that the current Republican party is the Party of No, and I don't want to give them an inch, not a solitary inch. But sometimes, I'd think, they made a point that sounded right. Sometimes of their own, and sometimes when they were attacking a Democratic point.
As soon as they started referring to one another as 'my colleague' and 'my friends on the other side', I stopped listening, because to me that's pol-speak for 'warning, bullshit ahead'. Ditto for 'The American people said clearly....' But then, like a perversion, I'd go back and listen some more.
The whole thing sickens me. Its as if there is no way to improve things, because they - and we - can't even agree about what 'improvement' means, or what needs it. Let alone how. You feel like, no matter what happens, we're going to get screwed.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Then she started it, and she sat there with the engine running. With a really big smile.
She had a great time. Me, I'm doomed.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
But the idea that a woman needs a guy to handle things around the house -- well, that's just plain silly. I think the ability to do things for your house can be empowering.
So Chica and Jo impresses the hell out of me. Way to go.
Last night, she told me that one of the girls in color guard had said that she'd hurt her shoulder while practicing. This girl is suspected to have said this multiple times in the past just to get out of practicing, to the point where, last night, others were taunting her, saying Oh, yeah, Liz is hurt, right. This time, though, my daughter thinks that she actually did hurt herself, and might have been as injured by the taunts as by the physical injury. Being harassed by the color guard instructor -- one of the ones who isn't very talented at organizing and motivating -- seemed to be a source of pain, too.
My daughter felt that while Liz asked for it, she was getting unduly harassed. But what can we do? she asked. If we challenge the instructor, she'll just scream at us. And nobody outside of color guard really cares how it's run, as long as we win. (And frequently, not even then.)
So I told her the Code Pink story, which was one that I'd heard a while ago. It appeared that in a certain hospital, a couple of the male doctors were known for being domineering bullies who treated nurses, particularly inexperienced ones, as their personal vassals, and would scream at them for the slightest reason. The nurses didn't feel as if they could do anything, because the hospital administration gave the clear impression that they cared a lot more about keeping the doctors happy than the nurses. So these nurses came up with a plan. Whenever they saw a doctor abusing one of the nurses in a clearly unwarranted fashion, they'd call out Code Pink. At which point, all of the nurses in the area would stop what they were doing, turn, and stare at the doctor. Who, more often than not, would get flustered and leave.
It didn't solve the problem, but it ameliorated it.
But if we do that, my daughter said, they'll just yell at us. It's easier in a group, I said. Not easy. It's never easy to stand up to authority, even when you're sure you're right. And less so when you're not. But it's easier if the group has discussed it, and decided This is what we're going to do.
She said she'd think about it.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Its clearly time, and past time, for a paradigm shift in management/employee relations. Why haven't I see a resurgence in union activities?
A democracy is only as strong as its people are smart.
And that’s why grocery shopping depresses me.
You see, Staci hands me a big list every Sunday and I go and get the things on the list. I view it as a scavenger hunt, so that part’s not depressing.
The depressing part is the checkout stand.
I don’t know much about retail, but I know that the area immediately adjacent to the register is the most valuable real estate in the store, because that is where people make their impulse buys. So stores need to fill it with stuff that is sure to sell.
So each week I stare at that space.
And that’s where I get sad.
Because what people are buying is telling them the following:
Jessica Simpson is on the verge of a nervous breakdown because something ate her poodle.
George W. Bush is suicidal.
Whitney is exploding at Oprah.
And a photographer hid in the bushes to catch a dying Patrick Swayze as he left the hospital for the last time.
And those were just the periodicals.
On the right of me was all the food that has caused our current health care crisis.
So the things that sell best are the things that make us fat and the things that make us stupid.
The day I’ll be optimistic will be the day that there are impulse apples on the left of me, and F. Scott Fitzgerald books on the right of me.
Until then, we’ll get the government we deserve.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
She loved it. I was quite surprised.
Going to the best colleges isn't a guarantee of success. Going to college right out of high school isn't, either. I've told her that I graduated from high school at pretty close to the bottom of my class, and after four years in the Air Force, I went to college, then back into the Air Force for four more. I'm happy how things turned out. I also told her that the military isn't bad, and can be great, if you keep a sense of what you want and what's possible. I showed her a book I have which was written by an Army general who directed the logistics of the first Gulf War. The military's not just about fighting, I said. It's a whole society. So be aware, think, and strive, but don't freak out.
Hope it helped.
While we were at my mother in law's house, we spent some time talking about houses. I'm still in favor of adding onto this house to make it long-term livable. It did occur to me that we could look into one of those 'riding seat' deals that you see advertised for stairways (we'd have to get two, since it's a bilevel with an entry between floors), but I'm not too fond of that. How do you carry stuff? Not to mention, how much space does the seat take up, even collapsed?
Spent a little time last night doing some research on that hospital's software. I don't get the impression that the woman running the project particularly cares, but I like knowing the ins and out of the stuff. Makes helping the users easier -- every so often someone says wish we could... and its nice when you can say well, in fact, you can!
My wife says that her company is again making sounds of laying off people. We both doubt she'll be able to stay there as long as she wants, which is another six years. She's already been there about 27 years, which is amazing. If something should happen, I imagine I'll start taking retirement from the first company I worked for, which will give me about $200 a month. I'll also talk with some people about looking for a job. Not particularly eager for that, but, hey, if that's what it takes to get us both to full retirement without drawing down assets, there's no question.
Just took a walk with my wife. First one in weeks. I liked it.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
Heard an interesting story on NPR this morning. An article in the current Science magazine talks about the potential inherent in being able to 'tag' movement through the tracking of electronic signals carried by many of the species. Only in this case, the species is human, and the tracking device is cell phones, which constantly report their position to the cell network as the holder moves around. The finding was that the mass of human movement - going into the city around a certain time, moving through the streets around the middle of the day, heading to shopping areas in the evening -- is significantly predictable, especially as you aggregate the points of data, and thus gives information about what you can expect that most people will do. The implications for transit and urban planning are obvious. I recall reading some time ago of a project -- I'm not sure if it was a proof-of-concept thing or an actual implementation -- whereby the cell phone signals from people in vehicles were tracked -- not this way, which was looking at movement, but in terms of volume, on the assumption that when people find their commute slowing down, they tend to get on the phone and call to say they'll be late; thus, a spike in volume suggests a problem in traffic. Either that, or Michael Jackson just died.
I think it's a fascinating concept, so long as I don't have to wear one of those little tracking collars on my ankle.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
He says he doesn't want people to get robbed ("Our intention is not, and never has been, to have people burglarized") and that this will simply serve to illustrate their vulnerability. Alert them to problems, as it were.
Yeah. Right. Like breaking into my computer and causing it to crash is a valid security tool.
I'm not sliming him, you understand. Simply indicating an area where personal growth potential exists.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
In other news, my doc says my blood pressure's great, and my cholesterol numbers are great. We'll know in a day or so how the BSG numbers are, but I expect them to be pretty damn good, too. Now, if I could just see some results of doing the bike....
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Sometimes, though, I abstract those thoughts and simply think 'what is it about some people's writing that tells me, almost instinctively, that I ought not to read what they have to say, because I will intensely disagree? I don't want to read things where I'm unable to argue, even in my own mind, effectively with them, but this is what seems to happen with me and certain writers. They're wrong, I know they're wrong, but I can't, even in the solitude of my own mind and this blog, come up with crushing logic and compelling evidence to make them retreat into the slime from whence they came. They seem so sure! How can that be? Better not read any more of their stuff. I'll just get mad. But what tells me this? What part of my reptilian brain instinctively knows that reading their stuff isn't a good idea?
Here's an example of something that just triggered that thought, from an article in Forbes magazine. (Forbes: Satisfying Capitalist Wet Dreams). It should be something I'd want to read, because it's about finance and economics, two topics about which I'm mildly interested:
During 2009 there was a lot of smug talk among academic and political liberals of Keynesianism enjoying a triumphant revival. But in the real world of jobs, wages and production--as opposed to the imaginary one of the chattering classes--the evidence shows that John Keynes' notion of being able to spend your way out of recession has not worked this time, if it ever did. It's important to note that ordinary voters are more sharply aware of this idea's failure than are the Western governments that have put their trust in Keynes.
That's just about as far as I got before thinking 'perhaps theres's something else to read'. But why? It's not, after all, intuitively wrong. It's simply saying that a certain view is incorrect. So why should I stop? And the best I can say is, there are trigger phrases. When I see them, I think this person is crazy -- stop reading. What phrases? Smug talk....But in the real world... the chattering classes..... if it ever did. All of those say to me that the author is sneering at me, that he's throwing up smoke screens, that he's going to do what I think of as a Republican/conservative trick -- that being, denying that something works because it's not what they would have done, exactly as they would have, and even if it was, it wasn't their idea. This person's not trying to talk calmly, sensibly -- he's trying to brainwash me. Am I sure? I look a little further - are more sharply aware of this ideas's failure...- my god, the proletariat are rising, quick, man the ramparts. He is trying! Oh, damn, I'm not ready for this. So I look elsewhere. Perhaps I can find someone eloquent to think for me -- someone such as Jon Stewart or Rachel Maddow. They're smart, they're insightful, yeah, them. And I try not to think that this is probably how the idiots on the other side view Limbaugh and his slimy ilk. I'm not always successful. I find myself thinking certain thoughts ....and you know how it goes from there.
Perhaps we have chocolate ice cream?
I wonder, for example, why they got divorced -- how'd that come about. I only know of a couple of divorced people. One was divorced within a year of getting married to a guy with whom she'd lived for at least a year. What happened there? How was the experience of being married so radically different than living together? Another person that I knew got divorced when the guy to whom she was (fairly) happily married got ill, and had to stay at home for a long time while recuperating. One day, she discovered that he had been having an online romantic affair with someone. How'd that happen? Did he project a different, more desirable image online, something he could not or would not do in real life?
I wonder, too, if it affects their self image. Do they feel somehow less attractive as a result of the divorce? I know that the classic image is the divorced woman on the prowl, eager to demonstrate that she's still able to cut it in the relationship jungle. Frankly, I find that image a little hard to believe. Some people, sure -- but as rule, I doubt it. I do suspect that there's a little bit of a hit to the self image, though.
What about kids, pets, all of that? I know of a woman who mentioned on her blog for quite some time that she was married and had a child. Lately, she never mentions the husband. Doesn't say he isn't coming back, or even that he's gone, but I get the impression that she has to spend more time just taking care of things than a married person -- one who can rely on someone else -- would have to do. I took the car in for a checkup; got to remember to hit the bank on the way home; have to spend time getting my daughter ready for school. There's a woman who lives near me; she's not divorced, but her husband isn't here. She mentioned once in a post on Facebook how she has very busy days, between work, activities at her church, and taking care of her son. What's it like, not to have free time? To be able to hand off things to someone else? I remember once, when my daughter was very young, and my wife was sick in bed, sleeping. I didn't feel all that well either, but I was better than she was, so I was in the living room, watching her play...and slowly, slowly drifting off to sleep. Then I'd wake up, terrified -- did I miss something? -- and be really alert for a while...before starting to drift off again. What's it like when your entire life is like that, because you have no one else around to help with your living responsibilities?
My wife tells me that we're never getting divorced. That sounds pretty good to me.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
While the dough was rising, I watched a DVD of the Star Trek movie. When we bought our TV, I thought that would be a good movie to watch on a big screen. And it is. But, one twice as big as ours would not have been amiss. Still, I liked it. And I confirmed at least one suspicion from when we saw it it in the theater -- Uhura's just there to look cute. She has almost no function in the main plot. Too bad, actually. I would have liked more than just eye candy.
I should be hungry -- I haven't had any dinner -- but I'm not. Without my wife around, my meals tend to be a lot more haphazard, and are frequently things like a cheese sandwich or a bowl of cereal. And as I had cereal for lunch, a cheese sandwich -- with a spicy mustard -- might be just the ticket. But first, I want to get out there and bake those rolls. Or whatever they're destined to be.
Not bad. Need to work on getting them to stay sealed, but overall, not bad at all....
After using a line from a currently famous song more times than probably I should have, I turned to my wife today, after she complained that her elbow hurt, and suggested that she try resting the arm with a sling. You know, I said, If it hurts you then you oughta put a sling on it. My daughter looked at me and said I wish to God that you'd never heard of that song.
She got some more birthday gifts yesterday -- a nice lightweight suitcase for her trip to France (which we're funding), as well as some cash from two relatives. We suggested that she bank it as part of saving for the trip. Aren't you paying for it? she asked, astonished. Yes, we are, we replied, but that would be for spending money. You know, gifts, meals, that sort of thing. You're not paying for that???? Uh, gee, we thought three thousand dollars for the trip itself was pretty remarkable all by itself. Apparently not.
Last night, I asked her if she'd brought home materials to review for all of her major courses. Yeah, except Science, but I don't need -- What you need, I interrupted, is to review every major subject, every weekend. Don't you recall agreeing to that? Well, sorry, she said, aggrieved, I forgot! Okay, I said, then I guess we'll forget about signing you up for karate as we'd said. What??? You can't do that! That was the deal, remember, I said. I - I.... guess I could get the book from someone in my class. Yeah, good idea.
I was mildly pleased with the food. Visually, it wasn't all that great -- certain gross analogies occurred to me when I saw it, which I didn't mention. I guess presentation wasn't big on their list of important things, and that's okay. It did have an interesting taste, and there was certainly a lot of it. I had to clamp my mouth a couple of times when my sister in law, who used to live near Los Angeles and still has much of the attitudes, would say how wonderful and how marvelous and how outstanding it was. I'm not a big one for exclaiming about food -- I might say this burger's not bad, and that would be if I really liked it. She followed it up with announcements about having eaten Lebanese food frequently, from the bus that comes around when I'm down in Washington, there's always a line, it's soooo good -- which, I told my wife once we were home, I didn't care for. (It sounded pretentious to me, but mentioning it turned out not the best idea in the world). At the end of dinner, there was a show: one of the waitresses did an extended belly dance, complete with veils and a flashing scimitar. I was impressed by her energy and flexibility, to put it mildly. And then we milled around for ten minutes while my sister-in-law tried to find what she'd done with her car keys.
Overall, not too bad. I'd do it again. Just us.
Friday, February 12, 2010
So, slowly, I've started Unsubscribing. Usually, it's to people's personal blogs, when I've either lost interest in what they have to say, or when, despite having commented on their site two or three times, I've not heard anything back from them. Don't get me wrong: I'm not a fan of the I commented on your site so you have to comment on my site. I think that's silly. On the other hand, if I've been there more than once or twice, found enough to like that I commented on it, and never got anything back, I think well, maybe there isn't as much in common as I thought there might be.
So I unsubscribe. So far, the hordes of people demanding that I resubscribe have been: manageable.
I just put the trash out. Odds are, the pickup guys won't come until tomorrow, what with losing at least one and possibly two days to the snow. I know those massive trucks get great traction, but I imagine it only takes having one flip over, with all of the hassle and bother and cost that correcting it would involve, to make you a very cautious driver. I just didn't want to take the chance of missing them, whenever they do come. And, hey, it did give me the chance to use the new garage door opener again. I like that new opener. For the last six months, I thought it was the metal wheels on the rails that was making that god-awful screeching sound. First time the installer ran the new one, I thought doesn't it work? I don't hear anything. Nice.
Tonight my sister in law and her family are coming up here to take us out to dinner. More accurately, they're coming to take out my daughter for her birthday, and we get to come along. I didn't really want to -- they're going to a Lebanese restaurant that my daughter likes (this from the kid who isn't even sure she likes spaghetti sauce), and I'm not fond of that cuisine. Or any that doesn't go well with ketchup and barbecue sauce. But my wife said she really wanted me to go, so I'm going. I hear the desserts are very good. And perhaps it will give me the chance to again point out that Lebanese restaurants are rare around here because there are so few Lesbians to staff them.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
I knew from the popular literature that this could be a big deal to some people, and I knew from the same source that things which were a big deal could simmer, bursting out with an angry virulence at unexpected moments. I didn't want that. On the other hand, I thought it was a trivial matter, not worth worrying about - unless it was. So I asked my still-relatively-new wife if it mattered to her, and she told me that it was convenient, but hardly worth obsessing over. And that's how my daughter's grown up, too.
But since we have a cat again, and we don't want her drinking from the john, I find myself making sure that the lid's down, all the time. Plus ca change.....
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
T W E N T Y * S I X * L A U G H L I N E S …
1. My husband and I divorced over religious differences. He thought he was God and I didn't.
2. I don't suffer from insanity; I enjoy every minute of it.
3. I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.
4. Don't take life too seriously; No one gets out alive.
5. You're just jealous because the voices only talk to me.
6. Earth is the insane asylum for the universe.
7. I'm not a complete idiot -- Some parts are just missing.
8. Out of my mind. Back in five minutes.
9. NyQuil, the stuffy, sneezy, why-the-heck-is-the-room-spinning medicine.
10. God must love stupid people; He made so many.
11. The gene pool could use a little chlorine.
12. Consciousness: That annoying time between naps.
13. Ever stop to think, and forget to start again?
14. Being 'over the hill' is much better than being under it!
15. Wrinkled was not one of the things I wanted to be when I grew up.
16. Procrastinate now!
17. I have a degree in Liberal Arts; do you want fries with that?
18. A hangover is the wrath of grapes.
19. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a cash advance.
20. Stupidity is not a handicap. Park elsewhere!
21. They call it PMS because Mad Cow Disease was already taken.
22. He who dies with the most toys is nonetheless DEAD.
23. A picture is worth a thousand words, but it uses up three thousand times the memory.
24. The trouble with life is there's no background music.
25. The original point and click interface was a Smith & Wesson.My kind of thinking!
26. I smile because I don't know what the heck is going on.
An article in the Economist says that one supermarket chain, in Denmark, is experimenting with having stores staffed only by the over-45, in a way of making the experience acceptable to the aging population. Maybe its just me, but I don't see that as a guarantee of satisfaction. It's the person, not the age. I've had great teenager servers and grumpy people my own age. Another note in the article says '"How (do you) get senior people to take orders from young whippersnappers?" I assume they're trying to be hep and groovy with that, but I'd say it starts with teaching the young ones how to handle people -- regardless of their age.
A friend on Facebook, who lives about a mile from here, says she's gotten 11 new inches of snow. We've gotten about six. Just lucky, I guess. Gonna have to go back out and do some more shoveling in a bit, I think. Not touching the base of the driveway, of course.
Glad we got that garage door fixed yesterday.
I liked this video, even though it spoke against my own leanings. I'm not particularly fond of free trade -- I really liked the West Wing episode where Josh gets to meet the people who lose their jobs because of it.
I guess I wouldn't mind having an XBOX 360, but at three to four hundred dollars a pop, I'd find it hard to justify. Then again, it took us years to justify the LCD TV.
I really don't get the point of cloud computing, though I did just see a video where the fellow said it's a method of allowing what I've heard called (elsewhere) "fast, cheap, and out of control" iterations, without the delay of standard environmental constraints. Oh. That does sound interesting.
As does this.
I was one of a group of people being trained for what appeared to be an administrative position with a wealthy family -- on the order of the House of Saudi, with all of the size and wealth that implies. Over time, I grew to realize that the more that I echoed and manifested the unthinking arrogance and lavish expectations of my employers, the more that I would personally benefit -- and the less I would be of the person that I used to be, with my old attitudes and expectations. And I did. I no longer thought it odd to see a freighter unloading twenty new Ferraris to replace those destroyed by the children of the family; I just made sure that I got one -- and not any one, but the one that was in the color that I liked.
Unsettling, how easily I got used to that degree of affluence.
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
I posted this image quite some time ago. I still like it. Occasionally, I've thought it'd be neat to have a couple of those military figures.
Just browsing the web, I came across an Amazon page offering the 'master chief' military figure from Halo. (It's not a doll, it's an action figure.) I know that Halo's a game, but that's about all I know about it.
Except that the master chief seems to be very well paid.
Still, it's an interesting muse.
If there was one thing, though, that would make us look elsewhere when it's time to replace it, that thing would be how it handles snow and ice. Which is to say: abominably. There are few pleasures as intense as pulling out for a left turn, noting a school bus bombing down at you from the right, and having the Prius suddenly hit a patch of ice in the middle of the road. The wheels start to spin, and the Prius throws up its skirts, jumps up onto a chair, and shrieks Ice! Eek! Make it go away! Immediately, the Prius kills all of your go-power. Dead. The engine's still running, but it's not connected to squat - it's just humming to itself. The only motive power you have at that point is: momentum. Once it hits dry ground again, you're good, but for those couple of seconds: hey, blind skydiving has nothing on it.
Will Toyota fix that? My guess is, they consider it a feature. No, really. Their manual says that this is intentional, to prevent you from skidding because you applied power while the wheels are spinning. That only one side might be spinning, and that you really need to get the hell out of there, doesn't appear to be a consideration. It's a nice, neat answer that also happens to be terribly wrong.
I suppose we could move to Arizona.
Monday, February 08, 2010
Sunday, February 07, 2010
Not at all bad. It didn't come out as red as I thought it would, especially given that we added some marinara and tomato paste towards the end of the cooking (Is there too much liquid? Let's reduce it some more. Ooops, too much. Let's add some marinara. Ah, not thick enough - do we have tomato paste?), but the taste is excellent.
We have enough for at least three months of spaghetti and, who knows, pizza meals. Easily.
Reading this article, it becomes a little clearer why nobody conclusively understands why the economy works as it does, let alone, where to bang it when it gets out of whack. These folks can't even agree why stores stock more of one brand of waffles than another. I'm not mocking them. My practical applications of economic knowledge, these days, start and end with Don't let Giant Food Stores know that you like something; they'll stop carrying it.
From an article about 'how do you interview people':
"....I always try to get input about that person from other people. I don’t tell people necessarily, “Hey, I’m thinking about hiring so-and-so. What do you think about them?” I might say, “Give me two great things that you like about this person, and two areas where you think they have a developmental opportunity.”
People have strenths...and developmental opportunities. Whatever happened to weaknesses?
Q. What feedback have you heard about yourself through the years?
A. I will tell you that 9 times out of 10, people say that I’m impatient. However, I think in the environment that we’re in right now, coming out of bankruptcy, that has become a strength.
Impatient is bad if its you, but as it's me, it's great!
Nope, can't do it.
Saturday, February 06, 2010
29 oz can Italian tomatoes........ 1 lb ground beef
1 lb Italian sausage........ 1 lb ground veal
1/4 cup olive oil ........ 10 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp fennel seeds........ 2 cubes beef boullion
2 cups boiling wter........ 3 tbsp flour
28 oz can tomato puree ........ 1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar ........ 1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp chili powder ........ 1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil ........ 1 cup chopped parsley
Open Italian tomatoes and blend on the food processor until smooth.
Prepare meats for use -
ground Italian sausage (removed from casings)
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in dutch oven on low heat.
Add 8-10 minced garlic cloves and 1 tsp fennel seeds
Cook, stirring, till they begin to turn color.
Immediately add meats to dutch oven.
Cook, stirring frequently.
While the meat is cooking, put two cubes of beef bouillon into a 2 cup pyrex measuring cup
Add 2 cups boiling water, stirring to dissolve the cubes.
When the meat loses its redness, stir in 3 tbsp flour and the bouillon.
Allow to thicken about a minute.
Add the processed tomatoes and stir.
Add the tomato puree and stir.
Add 1 tbsp salt
........ 1 tbsp sugar
........ 1 tsp ground black pepper
........ 1 tsp crushed chili pepper
........ 1 tsp dried oregano
........ 1 tsp dried basil
........ 1 cup finely chopped parsley
Bring the sauce to a boil
Lower heat and simmer for at least an hour.
This recipe makes enough for 2 lbs of spaghetti and tastes best the second day. It freezes well.
Our relative who lives atop a hill said they've been out for an hour with a heavy-duty snow blower, and it doesn't look like they've done anything. My feeling is that as long as it's not raining (hence, creating ice atop the snow), it makes no sense to shovel when the snow's still falling. I'm in the minority on that, though. Wife and daughter are going out now; I'll be out to help them in a little bit.
We had the talk with our daughter about getting her grades bumped up a bit. She was as thrilled as one might expect, but, overall, it went okay. We told her that she has to do four things:
A. Feedback. Ask instructors how you’re doing. Ask for suggestions. Do this twice a month.
B. Homework: Eliminate distractions when you do homework. Music is okay, but no videos.
C. Review. Nightly, go over material from that day’s classes. Reread the texts for what you worked on that day in class. On weekends, go over the week’s material. If possible, write a summary sheet like the biology ones. Review with classmates or friends.
D. Prepare - review the weekly summaries, and do sample problems where available. See if after-class review sessions exist.
(Talks like this, I tend to write out what the key points are.)
We said we would be asking her instructors for feedback on a recurring basis, and we would be reminding her to do the reviews, too. She looked less than thrilled. On the other hand, she gets to take karate again, and she's pleased by that.
I taped a note to the dining room table to remind me to ask her every day what she's reviewing that evening.
Friday, February 05, 2010
And I like good burgers. One of the highlights of the past summer was learning how to actually cook a decent one on our grill. I know of no place around here that can turn out a great burger. Well....almost no place. We do have a Five Guys.....
So, put the two together, and you can see why I liked this article.
Oh, it's snowing, yes...just barely starting now. And school districts all around us closed early. But did ours? No, they did not. Not a lick of it.
The joy was palpable in the school.
Of course, I may not get to experience that too much longer. I just found out that my mento failed three subjects at his midterms. Not one, not two, but three.
I think they're going to take away my mentor badge here, pretty quick.
Thursday, February 04, 2010
The original recipe comes from Recipes By Zola. She calls them 'Zola Burgers'.
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 tsp of cumin
1/2 tsp of garlic powder
1/4 red bell pepper minced
1/2 tsp of black pepper
In a large bowl mix ground beef, cumin, garlic powder, black pepper and the minced red pepper.
Mix thoroughly and form into two patties.
Sprinkle celery salt to taste on top of the patties.
Grill as desired
He told me that they couldn't just do it. They need the physical check. A week's not enough time to do it otherwise, they said.
I knew this electronic funds transfer stuff was just a passing fad.
Perhaps the overlords of Zorn are sending her the final attack codes? Whatever, she keeps this up, I'm going to run a drug screen on her.
The lyrics have changed since the last time I sang the song, but the melody lingers on: Is she doing as well as she can? Probably not. Is she doing as well as she can without being a studying drone? Ditto, and, not bloody likely. How can she improve her grades, specifically in two of her core subjects? The answer from the school, when they give one at all, tends to be unsatisfying, as the things that they say to do, she does do, leading me to think that it's more a matter of quantity than content -- for example, school says review the material, she says I do review the material, and the school replies We meant without music playing in the background, videos occasionally playing in the foreground, and, no matter how, at length, and more than once. Her response would be I like playing music, it helps me think. And I'm not really watching the videos. Usually. And I don't need to do it more than once.
I know that education tends to be an imprecise science. Your mileage may vary. Results not guaranteed.
I also know that as things go, she's not doing all that badly. B average, taking the toughest courses that her school offers to a second year student. I'm pleased by that. It's when I reflect on how close (one point) she was to getting a C in one course that I start having these thoughts about what else can be done? The answers that occur to be are the ones that they used when I was in elementary school, lo these many years ago. Vocabulary drills. Flash cards. Mindless rote memorization. I try hard not to think those are the only way because, by god, they worked for me. I am not always successful in this. And, of course, remembering my class rank at graduation, they didn't actually work all that well for me, either.
We're willing to be perceived by her as being mean. We're not willing to do it without a strong sense that it'll work.
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Monday, February 01, 2010
There was an article in last week's New York Times magazine about a theory of criminal treatment which holds that the threat of punishment doesn't work if the criminal doesn't believe it'll actually happen. The theory basically says that for it to work, you have to target specifically whom you're going after ('the drug dealers at fourth and chestnut'), bring them in, and say 'if you don't stop, this is exactly what will happen to you. We know you by name, and the arrest warrants are already signed'). I kind of doubt that its as effective as they say, but, okay, its a step.
Which makes me wonder: would targeted efforts be effective in establishing bipartisanship? Not 'them damn Republicans', 'them dam Democrats', but this Congressman, on this part of this issue? Would that work in any way?
This is one of the books that serious amateur bread bakers rave about. The author, Peter Reinhart, is one of the baking world's gods -- in fact, as I sit here thinking about it, no other name comes to mind. His is the one that people always refer to. It's almost at the point where he is referred to as 'Peter' -- because, of course, if you're reading a blog about bread and baking, what other Peter could there be? I had wanted to look at it -- I almost said read it, but I don't read cookbooks, certainly not ones that are this long -- because a blog from where I got a decent dough recipe for pizza said that it was a modified version of the one that he has here. Reinhart's written an entire book about his search for the perfect pizza, incidentally, taking the definition of 'pizza' far, far beyond what I consider 'perfect'; he actually went to Italy, tasting different versions as he traveled, and also throughout the United States, eating the famous -- to pizza lovers, anyway -- versions in New York, Chicago, Connecticut, and elsewhere. This level of interest and dedication is way beyond me, and so I tend to just see a recipe, say 'hey, let's try this', and leave it at that. Nevertheless, the recipe that that blog had was so good, in that it consistently created a decent, soft, malleable dough, that I thought I ought to try to read the original. The book's been sitting by the nightstand -- way too big to just pick up for casual reading from the top of the nightstand -- and every so often I'd look at it and think that damn book is going to be due back at the library soon, I ought to read SOMETHING from it.
So this morning, after playing with the cat a bit == I think that Abbicat, so much as she likes anything, really likes our house, even if we did keep her pretty much locked up for the 24 hours when all those girls were here; the whole damn house is one big cat toy, and, with only a few limitations, we pretty much let her go wherever she wants, which usually means a) sleeping on our bed, b) sleeping on the couch, or c) sleeping on the living room carpet == I came out to the kitchen, made some chocolate orange coffee, and started to leaf through the book. Almost immediately, I hit some text that caught my attention, but not in a good way. He was talking with someone about this version of bread baking versus that one, and showing the person two loaves, one baked each way; the person, stunned by the sheer excellence of the Reinhart loaf, threw his own against the wall, where it shattered and fell to the floor. (Which is where the difference comes in between me and him; if it had been one of my loaves, it would have been the wall that shattered. Density is a problem with my bread.) I leafed forward a couple of pages, slowing to read a little bit about 'bakers percentage', which I'd already known about, though I don't use it (it's a way of measuring out ingredients by weight rather than cups or other methods; the advantage is that it's consistent - a given weight of flour will always contain the same amount, where a cup of flour will weigh differently, and contain a different amount of flour, depending on how it was scooped and what the temperature is. And, for all I know, the phase of the moon. That varying difference affects how the bread turns out). And then a little about types of flours. And then a bit about how a couche works. And the effectiveness of parchment paper. And suddenly, I realized. I was enjoying the book. Even the are you KIDDING me? sections.
Though I'm not a very good bread baker (no fake humbleness; I'm really not), I'm becoming a little bit of a bread geek.